TED Review

     June 28, 2012


Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane has found great success in making adorable things like babies and dogs act like adults who crack offensive jokes.  MacFarlane sticks to his character formula in his directorial feature, Ted, but moves away from his tangential “This is ___ than the time ___” approach of his successful TV series.  Ted is better for the change as the story provides some nice (albeit plain) warmth to a barrage of delightfully juvenile humor.  MacFarlane’s sharp writing and direction, paired with a good comic turn from Mark Wahlberg, help make the film bigger than its simple premise of a talking, foul-mouthed teddy bear.

When he was a child, John Bennett (Wahlberg) wished that his teddy bear, Ted (voiced and motion-captured by MacFarlane) would come to life and be his best friend.  John got his wish, the two became lifelong friends, Ted was a minor celebrity for a while (sentient teddy bears tend to get media attention), and now the two are happily living as 35-year-old stoners.  John’s long-term girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis) wants her man to grow up, and the only way he can do that is to get Ted to move out.  John is torn between his desire to keep acting like a child and hang out with his talking stuffed animal, or to grow-up and reaffirm his commitment to Lori.  Meanwhile, Ted and John’s relationship is also being threatened by Ted’s creepy stalker (Giovanni Ribisi) and his even creepier kid (Aedin Mincks).

ted mark wahlberg

MacFarlane handles the plot of the film like a kid doing his chores.  That’s not to say that it’s a chore to sit through the scenes of John and Lori having serious talks about their relationship (one such scene leads to one of the best fart jokes I’ve seen in years).  MacFarlane doesn’t half-ass these plot points, but he’s not particularly enthusiastic about them either.  Ted needs a heart and a character arc and a conflict, but it’s clear that MacFarlane really just wants to run outside and play with his lewd teddy bear.

And as an audience, we want to see these scenes.  Ted is at its best when Ted is on screen.  Aside from one scene where she’s forced to deal with one of Ted’s messes, Kunis doesn’t get a chance to flex her comic muscle, and Wahlberg only gets to shine when Ted is on screen.  But the chemistry between the lead actor and the CGI creation is wonderful.  MacFarlane has written Ted like the character was pretty much human, and you could sub in a real person and the relationship would still work.  At first, this approach would seem to rob the movie of what makes it special.  If Ted is basically a person, then how is a talking teddy bear anything other than a gimmick?  It helps that Ted is symbol of something that physically can’t grow up.  While it’s heavy-handed, MacFarlane hits straight to the heart of every viewer whoever loved a single childhood toy with all their heart.  But before your teeth start to rot out at this saccharine notion, he’s throwing in 9/11 jokes, racial jokes, religious jokes, and all other kinds of deliciously offensive humor.

ted seth macfarlane

Ted is firmly in MacFarlane’s wheelhouse (minus the tangential humor, although he does sneak in a couple flashback edits), but it’s a wheelhouse that can be pretty damn funny.  I still adore the pre-resurrection Family Guy seasons because it was before the show became aware of its own popularity.  Ted doesn’t carry that baggage, and it only makes one fourth-wall-breaking joke (and it’s a good one).  Instead, MacFarlane is free to break out his 80s pop-culture references, revel in bad taste, and deliver plenty of laughs.

Rating: B


Around The Web
  • Farzan

    This has been getting good reviews everywhere. Can’t wait for the midnight showing tonight

  • AlexHeyNa

    This movie looks absolutely terrible. Like the worst movie of 2012 bad. I can’t believe all of the good reviews it’s getting. I may just have to see this. Not in theaters. But some day. If I get around to it.

    • will

      Even if it’s bad, it can’t be worse than That’s My Boy or anything Tyler Perry has put out this year.

      • AlexHeyNa

        I completely forgot about That’s My Boy. Didn’t see that, either.

      • Javyb1980

        That’s My Boy really surprised me, I went in there with no hope of it being remotely funny and it turned out to be really damn funny.

  • Alan

    ““This is ___ than the time ___” approach”

    Funny gag: like it better, though, when this observation was made on ‘South Park’.

  • Dean Lerner

    I’m not buying it. This looks godawful. Here’s a more convincing review: http://gawker.com/5921497/a-plush-bear-stuffed-with-crap-ted-reviewed

    • KBeat

      Yeah, never mind the 60+ positive reviews from critics who have, you know, actually watched the film. You’ve seen the trailers so you know it stinks.

      Regardless of the film, including some of the all time greatest films ever made, you can almost always find some negative reviews. So the fact that you managed to find one on Gawker, and there are several others, does not negate the opinion of dozens of other critics.

      • Dean Lerner

        What 60+ positive reviews?! It’s got 67% on RT. Plus, if I hate the trailers and hate everything Seth Macfarlane does, I’ll most likely hate the movie. The tons of terrible reviews I saw, just cement that fact. If you find teddy bears cursing funny, you’re most likely a mental midget and you’ll love this movie. So, go forth and enjoy.

      • Wildcat

        Always funny to see someone who can’t do math call someone else a “mental midget.” 67% fresh of 105 reviews on RT = 60+ positive reviews.

      • DropTedFred

        It makes me laugh when people think 67% on RT is a good thing.

  • Javyb1980

    The movie is really funny and the story even though being predictable wasn’t terrible either.

  • A

    Yea but its funny bcus, like, its a Teddy Bear! And bears are supposed to be all cute N kid friendly, but this one swears and like, has sex N shit!!! Its funny!! And like, in an obvious humor kinda way! Poopy jokes! SWEARING! AND, its a BEAR!!! SEE THAT!!! A FUNNY TALKING BEAR THAT SWEARS N DOES ADULT STUFF!

  • PooPooPeePee

    Me like bear that go poo poo & pee pee like me. Him funny bear. Hurrrrr Durrrr. Mind me of time me was _____ in _____ ! Me have bwain damuge. Awwwwwww! Hurp Derp!

    • RYan

      Good Lord, I got a good laugh out of that.

  • Dannyboy3030

    I have a hard time understanding the appeal of Seth MacFarlane. There is nothing funny about Family Guy or American Dad. The artwork is awful, the episodes have no continuity or redeeming qualities and it’s trying to be smarter than it really is.
    (this is just my opinion of course)

  • Mik

    Everybody remembers the little girl that made a wish in the fountain in the chinese restuarant and had a mastrubating Teddy Bear with a foul mouth in the Classic Supernatural

  • ThatGuy

    Jesus Christ. We get it. You hate Seth MacFarlane. He’s not funny at all, blah blah fucking blah. Give it a god damn rest. Most of you haven’t even seen the fucking thing. I for one watched it today and I found myself rolling in my seat, but at the same time I was honestly worried about that damn little bear. Seth MacFarlane is a friken comedy genius, sad no one can see that. There’s a reason he’s getting movie deals and his show’s stay on the air and your stuck on some B rated website commenting about how you hated a movie.

    • ThisGuy

      You were worried about a CGI bear? I wouldn’t go around saying that too much. And, you say there’s a reason for Macfarlane getting deals: There is. He panders to the lowest common denominator. There’s a reason Michael Bay makes assloads of money, there’s a reason Brett Ratner makes an assload of money, there’s a reason Kim Kardashian makes loads of money, there’s a reason those Not Another _____ Movie guys make money, there’s a reason Donald Trump makes money; and they’re not good reasons. A person making an assload of money isn’t an indicator of talent. Your logic is just as bad as your sense of humor (I imagine this was you in movie: ‘Hee hee! Pop culture reference! Hee hee! Fart joke! Hee hee! Bear snorts cocaine!’ Etc).

  • MaryRonate33

    “I can’t believe all those TEDTalks were just marketing for a Seth MacFarlane movie.”

    Best Tweets about TED at Dacritics org